Friday, December 31, 2004

Baking and tricks with onions.

Since I have to work through this New Year's weekend, I decided to bake my onion-cheddar quiche to take for a potluck meal at my paying job. No cafeteria service (don't even get me started on that subject) is available and our potluck meals are way-way tastier anyway.

Frying up the onions reminds me of a story my mother heard somewhere long ago. Apparently there was a woman whose husband always came home from work, expecting his supper to be ready and on the table. Of course, there were many times when the woman just did not have supper ready right that minute, so she developed a quick trick. She would brown some onions. With aroma of onions browning, her husband accepted her reassurances that supper was cooking, even though sometimes she hadn't any idea of what that supper was going to be. Comforted by the aroma, he didn't fuss or bother her until she could come up with something, even something that often ended up not containing any onions!

Here's to failing (failed?) memory!

When you read something written so well, something that in a word or two describes a neurosis that you thought only you had, a failing that nobody else in the whole world could possibly suffer, it kinda makes you glad that you just might be a part of the funny human race after all.

I read constantly, but can't remember much of what I have read. So imagine, there is someone else out there who has the same problem, but has turned his lemon into lemonade. So Many Books reviews The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, and quotes him as saying:

he was depressed for a while because he realized that he'd forgotten most
of everything he has ever read. But he "bounced back: I am now cheered by the
realization that if I've forgotten everything I've ever read then I can read
some of my favorite books again as if for the first time."

That alone is enough to make me want to run out and buy the book!

I promised to report on my further inquiries about the house-share possibility. Ann suggested I bring the dogs to get acquainted with hers. And I remembered to write down the measurements of my piano, etc. We had a nice quiet chat. I was again struck by her calm nature and her centredness (if that is a word), even though Ann was under the weather due to a cold. I realized that I still have difficulty just being, thinking that I must do something most of the time.

As we were talking, a huge owl flew up from behind an outbuilding to sit in a tree not too far from the house!

Another plus was Ann's confession that she thinks housework is a bore and would like to hire a housekeeper. Yeah!

I'm still worried that Molly's puppy-ness is too much to cope with, but hopefully she will settle down sooner rather than later.

Anyway, we made tentative plans for me to start moving in around the weekend of the 22nd so that she can make plans for her trip, knowing someone will be around to look after her dog, etc.

I went looking for boxes at my usual best source for mid-size strong boxes that can handle all my books. However, the girl at the liquor store said they would be out of boxes until after the New Year. Well! Now what? I'm trying not to panic over all the packing, cleaning out, sorting, throwing out, selling and giving away I must do in the next few weeks! OK, I'll admit it, I'm panicking a little...

How can I be daydreaming of buying more books and CD's when I should be thinking of packing everything up?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What is your element?

Water. Whatever you do, where or when, you do it
with all of your heart. You listen to your
heart and all of your emotions are true
non-acting. Friends are very importent to you
and you will do anything for them. You're the
most dreamy of all 4 elements.

What is your element?
Brought to you by Quizilla.

Woman Power, Yeah!

Here's a plea to recognize that intimate violence, the roles of dominance in the family and the status of women and children in a society, all have a bearing on how well a nation is doing. The link between repressive and war-like nations and the extent to which they violently repress women and children is striking. Funny how the power women have to nurture, when allowed to express itself in its own way, makes a whole society or nation richer. Check it out.

Pie Jesu

I'm reliving the experience of singing in my high school choir, listening to Gabriel Faure's Requiem, for 2 solo voices chorus, organ, & orchestra, Op. 48 Pie Jesu Composed by Gabriel Faure, Performed by the London Philharmonia Orchestra, Conducted by Michel Legrand, from a CD entitled:
Mass: The Most Powerful, Uplifting & Passionate Music You Will Ever Hear (Audio CD) ~ . (as if I sounded anything like this ! ;) lol)

Mondo Beyondo

Some of the blogs I love to revisit often gleaned these happy ideas:

Here's a wonderful idea that I found through Keri Smith's blog. Instead of negative New Year's Resolutions!

I was asked recently what my plans for the future are. I chickened out of replying by saying 'that's a good question...' I think maybe I'm afraid to voice my Mondo Beyondo dreams because I'm tired of being laughed at, being told I'm unreasonable, demanding, crazy. That makes me angry, angry that I would allow it. So, I promise, I'll think and post my own Mondo Beyondo list here soon.

The musician in me loved this discussion of the character of the key signatures of music at the Bookish Gardener. What do you think?

And more about music. Read "no, really, I am the Centre of the Universe" for a great laugh.

And here's a quote from Christian Kiefer:

Time speeds us by so quickly, but then everyone already knows how heartbreaking
it is to have your life disappearing every moment under your feet. It's one of
the fundamental ideas of human life. So we snatch the smallest beautiful moments
we can and act like they are important. And run.


Reading all the sad news of the people who died as a result of the tsunami is almost unbearable. It kind of puts things into shocking perspective. In this recent Orion online article, the climate changes that are occurring due to global warming are described as likely to be much more of a sudden crisis than a gradual thing. And we seem incapable of dealing with it. So, we are facing many more horrific events like this one. Sadly, nature was never the enemy, but we persisted in poking at it irreverently as the article says, as if poking at a large, sleeping, ferocious beast with a little twig.

That reminds me of something lovely I read a while back about reverence, on Tom Spencer's site, the Soul of the Garden. This is what Tom wrote:
In his beautiful book, Reverence,
Austin author, Paul Woodruff, attempts to reawaken us to the ancient gifts of
ceremony and ritual, he argues that they can enrich our lives if they are
imbued with reverence. He quotes the Confucian Analects, "Without Li
(reverence) courtesy is tiresome; without Li, prudence is timid; without
Li, bravery is quarrelsome; without Li, frankness is hurtful." I might add,
without Li, gardening is painful.
A bright red cardinal visited my bird feeders this morning! Maybe he's been there before, but it was the first time I've seen him. It's a sign.
One of my best friends gave me a couple of books last night -- a Christmas present. One of the books is called "The Red Hat Club". Now, isn't that appropriate?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Power & Peril

I'm lending a book entitled "Power and Peril, the Catholic Church at the Crossroads" by Higgins and Letson to a sweet friend at my paying job. (a dumb cliche popped into my mind this morning about 'labouring for the bread that perisheth' ) It will be interesting to hear his opinion of it.

My background being fundamentalist protestant, I found it interesting how far-reaching the catholic traditions are even in protestant religion which presumably broke with so many catholic ideas centuries ago?

However, I confess, that traditional rituals appeal to me, and the community of a congregation is something that I miss in my life, to the extent that I have contemplated joining a church...weird, huh? There is something about a congregation joining in the singing of an uplifting hymn, for example. But, my question is, will I get angry and impatient again at senseless sermons on shallow subjects, at rants on illogical dogmas? I have fantasies of a church like the one Anne Lamott encountered as she describes in her book, "Travelling Mercies".


The "View" this morning is a re-run of a show with Jessica Simpson. J.S. sings "O Holy Night". Does anybody else find her as annoying as I do????

At the Random Muse, this crazy 'news letter' that I loved!! I used to write letters like the ones this spoofs when I was younger. Now I feel much crankier and can relate to this spoof much more. But now, I feel no need-- or hardly any--to pretend that I am Martha Stewart, super mom, uber career woman...I do nothing well, accomplish very little each day, and revel in noodling for hours at a time.

I think Georgia OKeefe has been quoted as saying that canoodling and noodling for many, many hours is necessary for great creativity to be possible. So, that's why I noodle. That's my 'raison d'etre' idle. When I feel more energetic, I'll find that exact quote and won't have to paraphrase...

multicoloured hat

I finally finished Granddaughter's multicoloured hat.

The mitts are to follow. I will post a pic when they are done.

I notice that scanning the hat produces a pic that does not accurately reproduce the green and other colours in the hat. Oh well. When I figure it out, I'll try to post a better pic.

Monday, December 27, 2004

a murder of crows

On Christmas Day, as my youngest daughter and I made our way into town to have dinner with my oldest daughter & family, we came upon a murder of crows, at least two dozen of them in stark contrast to the whiteness of the snow! I wished I had the time to draw them. Daughter had not heard the term "murder of crows" before and wondered if it had anything to do with death.

I remember my son-in-law's grandfather once told me that crows, like other carrion eaters, often congregate around a corpse or dead thing. He was telling a story about his frustration with modern ignorance of old-fashioned knowledge that might help, for example, the police find a missing person. He had notified the police that a large murder of crows had gathered in some woods near his home and the police foolishly laughed at him.

In a novel by Deepak Chopra, I also recalled, he described crows as time-travellers.

I really would have like to have done a drawing of those crows!

life and death

Yesterday morning, I happened to be outside with the dogs for their morning you-know-what, when there was a sudden commotion over by one of the bird-feeders. There was a swift whoosh, and flurry of feathers and much alarmed twittering! A swall raptor of a kind I could not identify the flew away westward empty-clawed/beaked. To me this is highest drama, heartbreaking, raw and awfully real. I was glad the seed-eaters survived this time, but I suppose the raptors need to eat as well, and are beautiful too in their own way. I often see the larger brown-tailed hawks sitting on power lines by the road side as I drive into town. I wish I knew them better to identify them with some assurance, as this type of hawk or that...

Season of Delights!!

First delight: my youngest daughter came and spent the night with me on Christmas Eve. I enjoyed her company so much! We did a little baking for Christmas, my usual quiche and her favorite Peppermint Meringues.

The next morning, it took a little engineering to get everything into the car, because in addition to presents I was taking to the Granddaughter and her Mom & Dad, etc., and our baking, there were some clothes and things my youngest daughter had left behind that she wanted to take back to her place, winter clothes and such that will come in handy right now.

Second delight: we had a lovely time watching Granddaughter opening her presents. There was lots of joking and laughing. Many wonderful presents. How lucky are we, really!!

Third delight: Son-in-law out-did himself again on a wonderful meal! He is amazing. We all contributed bits of the meal, but really, most of the effort and organizing was his, and it was great. There was turkey and ham and dressing and my quiche and vegetables and mashed potatoes and gravy and a huge salad and cranberry sauce. This doesnt even include all the appetizers that he had laid out before dinner. We enjoyed a bottle of Beaujolais nouveau with dinner. I regret that I didn't buy two bottles. It did go down quite nicely, not being too heavy and complex for the non-wine drinkers of the bunch.

Nanny Alice started taking notes and made a little list of things Son-in- law needs in the kitchen, serving pieces, platters and such. She's such a practical, mothering soul, planning already for next Christmas??

I have been re-thinking that opportunity to move and share that house out near Fenelon Falls. It is still the most practical place I have seen. Nothing is perfect, but I have seen so many dumps, and met so many crappy people in my searches, this does look the most promising. Not to give faint praise to my potential new house-mate. Oh dear! Everything about the place is so sunny and bright, my major concerns were with whether or not she would like me or be able to live with me and my quirks. So, after the holiday excitement died down a bit, I gave her another call this morning, and left a message. This saga is to be continued, dear reader....(I don't know the outcome either and find that quite frustrating :) )

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Choral Evensong

This has been a very up and down week, thus far. Looking forward to my week off from my paying job for Christmas, I also got confused as to what the day of the week was, thinking on Sunday that it was Friday... Since I have not worked regular mon-fri, 9-5, for many years, that was a weird mind-warp thing to think.

Over the weekend, I did go to check out a possible new place to live, a place that would be cheaper by half, but it would mean sharing a house with another woman. Not at all sure I can do that. I was very charmed by the setting, the layout of the house, the sauna and the attached greenhouse. The house is not very well insulated and the floors were very, very cold. But I loved the quiet of the place overlooking Sturgeon Lake. Still, there is the fact that I'm not sure I can share a house with another woman, who is basically a stranger.

I'm nearly ready for Christmas now, having just to do some wrapping up. I'm listening to a choral evensong over the BBC as I putter around. Kind of soothing.

At my paying job on Sunday evening, a small chorus from the Salvation Army came by to sing Christmas Carols. I happened to be in the elevator with them, making my way to work, when one of the singers handed me a CD of Christmas music. I have only listened to part of if yet, but what I've heard, I really enjoyed.

My landlord's two youngest boys came over this week to say "Hi." The dogs were so excited! I let them out to visit with the boys in the snow -- on their leashes. Molly weighs about the same as the youngest of the boys. But she was really not the problem. All she wanted to do was lick the boys' faces and wrestle in the snow with them. The boys laughed and giggled, and at times it was difficult to distinguish dog from boys as they rolled about in the snow. Misty, on the other hand, was single-minded on getting into the barn. Memories, I suppose, of so many interesting scents in there to explore, check up on, and hunt.

It was one of those horribly cold days when the hairs in one's nostrils crackle painfully in shock as the exhaled moisture from your lungs clings to the nose hairs, protesting being exhaled into the frigid atmosphere to vanish in frosty vapors. Even chimney smoke and car exhaust vaporized into monstrous cold-created ghosts, ghosts alarmed to be made visible at last by the extreme cold.

I was sorry to read that one of my favorites, the Yarn Harlot, was one of many people in the greater Toronto area who had pipes freeze etc in the piercing cold on Monday.

Within minutes outside, my hands were tingling painfully. I had to go in and take the dogs in with me. The boys in their skidoo suits were much better dressed for the weather than I. Misty was shivering non-stop, but would have happily stayed out all day, following her nose. The excitement of the wrestling left Molly very sleepy for an hour or two :) . It took me nearly that long to thaw out!

I spent a very satisfying day all day Monday cutting back unruly house plants, cleaning up a nasty infestation of spider mites on the lemon verbena, and giving all the plants a really, really good drink in the tub. I find that usually I underwater the plants because the water runs right through the dried out soil and onto the floor! I have another new resolution: to take better care of my house plants from now on....

The two bits of ginger I planted, have sprouted. I wonder what the plant will look like? I simply snapped apart some ginger root I got from the grocery store, following a suggestion I read in Patrick Lima's Herbs .

My celebration of Winter Solstice entailed listening to Ideas on CBC radio. I was finally vindicated. Many years ago, I heard the Aurora Borealis before I saw them for the first time...when I turned around to figure out what the noise was, there they were in the Northern sky. Since then, I had not heard or read any reference to the northern lights making any sound, and most people to whom I described the experience, looked at me in a rather doubtful manner. But here on the Ideas program, recorded in Yellowknife, the naturalist, Jamie Bastedo, described the noise! Further research elicited many more descriptions of the noise.

When my brother visited here from Alaska a year ago, he brought with him several photos by Dennis Anderson, an aurora addict. Check out his photos!

The poet Robert Service, who wrote The Ballad of the Northern Lights, in some ways reminds me of another Canadian iconic figure, the recently late Pierre Berton. I remember a high school history teacher had us read a lot of PB and we even watched some movies that I think were from the CFB. Does anybody else remember anything like that, "The Last Spike" or something??

One of the little herbal sleep pillows I made as Christmas presents. Scanning it does not work too well, does it? A digital camera is on my wish list...

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Yesterday, I enjoyed the first crop of sprouts that I started about 4 days ago. Fresh sprouts you grow yourself are better than the store-bought ones! The spicy lentil mix seems to have a lot of radish seeds in it. I made a bean salad, adapting a Martha Stewart recipe.

Spicy Bean Salad with Sprouts:

1 can black beans (or other bean you like)
rinsed, drained, excess water shaken out
2 tsp ground roasted hot red peppers
1 stalk green onion, minced fine ( red onion would be nice here too)
3/4 cup sprouts
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar and/or herb vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

At my paying job, people have been bringing us presents of Christmas treats, and one of the girls I work with brought in several Phillippino dishes as well. So. When I went to work yesterday evening, what with my Huge Salad, and all this food around, I don't remember much about the shift, except eating and eating and eating! Finally, it came to the point that if I had another shortbread cookie, I would really burst! Not an altogether bad way to spend a work day :)

Christmas preparations are in full swing! I have bought some things and have some work to do! Shhhh-h-h-h! I have lots of secrets right now!

Of course, Granddaughter's hat and mitts have to be finished also. I hope to post a pic of them soon.

I took the Girls ( the dogs, Misty and Molly) to the groomer this week. Molly loves the spray of water, trying her best to bite it! This really entertained the groomer.

However, I found my country bumpkins really did not know how to behave in the city, nearly killing me as they wrapped their leashes around my legs and strained forward with all their might so as to get to all those interesting smells! Obedience training for you, Girls! That's it! I've decided! Walking them in the country here was never as fraught with danger. Surely there are just as many interesting smells, but they are familiar to my girls, so maybe less intensely inviting?

The Boys ( my cats, BooBear and Caspar) were not very impressed with the spruced-up and perfumed Girls. Neither party was disappointed or anything. The Girls were just glad to be home and went to sleep, exhausted from the adventure, while the cats more or less ignored them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

hopes and dreams

So. Anyone out there who loves me, pray this works out for me. I will know better after the weekend, but there is a chance that I have found a new place to live. That's all I can say for now.

The stars last night were spectacular again. There is so litttle light-pollution from cities out here that the stars are quite clear. Having the barnyard light nearly non-functioning also helps, as looking at the night-sky in that direction when it did work, severely faded out the stars.

I've been watching some of the birds at my feeders this morning as a enjoy my coffee---oops! Yes, I admit it. On automatic pilot this morning, I put the coffee on and only after I had done it, did I realize that I had tried to go off coffee. Oh well...

At the feeders, and in the yard, I have seen a woodpecker , chickadees, bluejays, juncos, finches, and mourning doves. In the quarry to the south of me, I can also hear Canada geese that are still about.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

aches & pains

Here I am again, aching all over. What is this?

Last night I returned home to find the barnyard light weakly throwing out no light at all. I stumbled towards the house, delighted to find the path to my back door had been plowed of snow by someone very, very kind!

But just as I reached the back step, I misjudged the height of the snow that had slid off the roof into a furrow, tripped and again fell face first into the back step. In my arms, I had some Christmas presents I had purchased on my way into town. They hit the step with an ominous clunk. No harm done, thankfully. Only a container of cashew nuts broke open and spilled itself into one of the bags.

The demonstrations of joy the dogs expressed, as is their habit, were not well received by me last night, as I struggled past their exuberance to deposit what I hoped were undamaged Christmas gifts on the counter out of their reach.

The stars were spectacular last night, once I organized myself enough to take the dogs out for their walk. The Big Dipper was hanging quite upside down in the sky, spectacular! I woke once more at about 4:30 am, because the dogs were restless. Since I was awake, I took them out anyway and was treated to the sight of Orion hanging just above the horizon to the west.

But this morning, it was extremely difficult for me to wake up. Everything hurts so badly that I just wanted to curl up deeper under the covers and never come out. For a long time, I just lay there, assessing all the bits that hurt, shins, thighs, hips, lower and middle back, upper arms, back of the neck....To me it's bewildering that it all seems to be muscular pain vs joint pain. The discouraging part is that searching for some answer to what all this pain is from, would no doubt involve many visits to doctors and many tests that I'm not sure I could endure. The pain being so non-specific, and because I have such a hard time seeing any pattern to it, I would feel like I'm trying to convince an unsympathetic and suspicious doctor of something he/she is predisposed to believe is all in my head.

It all makes me want to just yell like Job, "Why hast Thou forsaken me?"
I'm determined to keep on. I tried to eat a good breakfast and had a couple soothing cups of herbal tea.

The dogs would have loved a good romp in the snow. They kept taking crazy lunges back and forth, nearly turning somersaults at their delight in the snow. Molly, the voracious eater, kept chomping on any clumps of icy snow she came across...But it's too cold for me right now. Maybe, on Thursday, when I don't have to think of conserving my energy to go in for a shift at my paying job, I'll get dressed warmly in my winter boots, etc.,
and take the girls for a long walk in the back fields.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

100 Things About Me

I laughed with enormous delight to read the Yarn Harlot's 100 things!I have no idea if I can come up with 100 things about me, but maybe a few at a time, I will eventually. So here goes (perhaps to be continued...)

1. I do cook soups and find them very satisfying with a slice of toasted whole wheat bread and butter. I was usually the only one that really enjoyed them when I was cooking for the family, however. Now, soups are difficult to make in small enough batches not to go to waste.

2. I don't like freezing left-overs. If I do, they don't get eaten, they get forgotten.

3. I'm mostly a vegetarian--a vegetarian at home, sometimes enjoying usually chicken when I go out to eat.

4. I was born in Somerset West, South Africa, to Finnish parents.

5. I spent my childhood in Ethiopia, Finland, and Canada.

6. I continued my education (undergraduate work toward Secondary Education certificate/BA, major French, minor Biology) at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan; Seminaire Adventiste in Collonges-sous-Saleve, France; Memorial University in Nfld, Canada; (RN) General Hospital School of Nursing, St. John's, Nfld.

7. I have no desire to further my education unless it is with hands-on courses such as watercolour painting; life drawing; pottery; spinning and weaving; yoga; belly dancing; adobe/ceramic/rammed earth house building; garden design with natural plants; herbal remedies; things like that...

8. I used to be quite religious and devoted to the tenets of the Seventh-day Adventist church as a teenager, but began to question many dogmas at the same time, in a gradual process that led to #9.

9. At the age of 24 or so, I made an intentional break with the church and the paternal judao-christian root &traditions of my religion, when a friend 'discovered' that the family on earth is a microcosm of heaven: Father as God-head, Mother as subordinate Spirit, and children as--I forget what...Instinctually, I felt this was wrong, but unequipped to argue from any philosophical/theological standpoint, I could only disagree.
Later, he did come to me with another change in his thinking, but for me that was too late. For me, a 'god' that imposed hierarchies based on arbitrary divisions such as race, or sex, was not a god worth worshiping.
As soon as I made that decision, all sorts of new viewpoints opened up to me and I was led to read all sorts of interesting things about the history of the human search for & beliefs in god/gods/goddesses/ angels/ faeries, etc.

10. I was married for 17 years and have three adult children who no longer live with me.

11. I'm a very left-leaning liberal in my views, and don't apologize for it! I think we are experiencing a reactionary swing in the political climate in North America that belies the actual progress we have made in social and feminist freedoms and equality.

12. I'm afraid that the reactionary swing to the right may destroy humanity and the world as we know it, before we wake up and get back on the path of respect for the natural world and its resources, and true love and concern for our fellow man as part of this fragile biosystem we call our Earth home.

13. If that destruction happens, I know, as Harold Horwood once said, there will be another life-form dancing on the shores of this earth in our place.

14. My Dad always said : "Everything is relative." I like to think he meant in some sense similar to Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory, theories of chaos and complexity, that the observer has a mysterious effect that changes the materiality of the observed at an incredible rate, that our perception is more fractal than Euclidian. He probably meant something much more prosaic, because he is often quite black and white in his values, he thinks whites really have some superiority to the blacks in the South African situation, and his cultural tastes are decidedly orthodox, whether he understands the orthodox or not.

15. My Dad also once said, when a mother skunk and her babies stopped traffic in all four lanes on a busy street one Saturday morning: "That's what it is when you have a reputation!"

16. Another Dad saying, when I suggested some silver as a Christmas present for my Mom: "Those kinds of things are not for people like us."
He was raised in a community not too far removed from the old feudal system; in fact, he can still remember all the small landholders going to help the big landowner take in the hay and being treated to a big communal meal (was that payment??).

17. Does it seem like I'm talking about me in a roundabout way, by describing some of the people in my life instead?

18. My parents were always very health-conscious, vegetarians like most Seventh-day Adventists, but more so, even being strict vegan for many years. I'm not dogmatic about it (I hope), but I try to live as healthy a life as I can.

19. I shop organic as much as possible.

20. I worry about petrochemicals in my candles, household cleansers and cosmetics.

21. I make my own vegetable-oil based soap, with essential oils, organic botanicals and additives. Sometimes I buy handmade soap from artisans to compare and enjoy their unique nature.

22. I use herbal teas, ointments and massage oils to flavor, enhance and treat my life.

23. I listen to French language radio in the car, to keep up my skills--which have sadly deteriorated due to disuse.

24. I love world-ethnic music. It takes me to places I where I long to travel.

25. I have two cats (male) and two dogs (female). The dogs sleep in my bed, which mostly works out ok. It is sometimes a little difficult to change your position when pinned on two sides by dogs.

26. I'm a paper-packrat. I save all sorts of things, magazines, clippings from newspapers, even whole sections of the paper... I even print things off the net that I then save in paper form...

27. I worry I'll be one of those crazy old ladies that has to navigate through tunnels in her house formed by stacks and stacks of old newspapers and such, after my tendency turns to a pathology of packrattedness!

28. I worry I'll die and somebody will have to go through all my papers, wondering: "Why did she keep that??"

29. I play the piano. Less often than I used to, but I still play once in a while, losing myself in the music for hours. Once upon a time, I was going to study music in university.

30. I love the old music from the WWII era and even before, the age of big bands, unabashed romance and innocence in the lyrics of melodic easy to sing-along-with songs.

31. I love all kinds of music. I'm often embarrassed because I don't know the title or the singer(s). But I probably know the song, once I hear it.

32. I love making things with my hands, be it knitting, spinning, gardens, meals...but I have a plethora of unfinished projects all over the house.

33. I'm neurotic and constantly seek adulation by showing off my works- in-progress to anybody who will look. It doesnt' matter that the works-in-progress often are never completed.

34. I spend a lot of time imagining how my planned gifts of hand-made objects will change the lives of their recipients into a utopia of health and happiness, forever. I spend far less time actually making these hand-made objects. I often have to give up completing these hand-made objects because I just can't meet the deadlines of events like Christmas. What's the point of knitting the son-in-law some warm woolly socks for (what event is next, Valentine's Day? Easter?) probably the blasted heat of summer, by the time I finish those socks I imagined would be sooooo cool! It doesn't occur to me to get a jump on Next Christmas...that would be too efficient!

OK. That's all I can do for now. In steering away from self-congratulation, I veer toward self-flagellation. No middle-of-the road balance for me, OH NO!!


Well, I put off quitting my coffee habit until yesterday, figuring I'd have the two days of the weekend at least, to deal with the withdrawal headache. I concentrated on eating well and drank lots of herbal teas, particularly teas with chamomile and hops, to help those irritable nerves to settle. It worked. I had a mild headache last night before going to bed, but minor, compared to what I might have expected, considering also the amount of coffee I was consuming daily!

I really identified with a woman from Calgary who responded to the CBC Sunday news piece remembering the masacre of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. She said that just after the news of the shootings broke, she was waiting at a commuter stop with a couple of gentlemen dressed in business attire. She overhead one say to the other, in regard to the shootings: "It's understandable...sometimes they just make you so mad..." Doesn't it just give you the creeps? How many times have I heard something similar? It makes one wonder if men allow the carnage to go on because passively, they benefit from the implied threat to the women in their own lives, whereby their women become intimidated and more subject to control??

I really believe, that unless a man consciously examines the priviliges he enjoys just because he is a male, he is all too willing to defend his position of power by any means necessary, whether he "deserves" his priviliges or not. I'm sad when men say to me, "but I'm not an abuser." " I don't rape women..." "It's not my fault. "

Neither is it my fault that we live in a world of privilige and plenty and millions of children are starving and dying....No. That is not true. Whenever I turn away, whenever I don't say something, vote, do something positive towards the end of reducing the suffering in the world, as a citizen of the world, I take the side of the oppressors who are the root causes of the poverty and suffering of others.

I'm not egotistical enought to think that my little actions will add up to make any great dent in the huge amount of injustice and suffering, but I will act in faith that I must do something, and maybe my action will become a part of a great network of likeminded people doing something, until someday the tide will turn. This relates to my thoughts on Fame, below:

Speaking of Ego, I read a question today on another blog site, asking: How famous do you want to be?

How famous do I want to be? I think this has to do with belonging to a community. Being infamous, perhaps might mean one doesn't belong, and not being known at all, also leaves one out of community. When one's efforts are acknowledged, by family, friends, strangers, it is a great positive reinforcement to continue, that what one is doing has meaning.

How many people need to acknowledge what I am doing? Maybe that is related to how needy one feels, but it could also depend on how big a task one has taken on, how many people one hopes to benefit by the work. Having people who appreciate you, that you exist, and appreciate the things you do is a special thing. It is more than being compensated with a salary. It has more to do with belonging. To me, that is an important need, sadly, not fulfilled in the lives of many people.

How many people describe what they do as "just a job"? A group of us from my paying job met the other night to re-evaluate ourselves and how we are doing in our chosen career. We joked that we are not all that committed to the profession because given the opportunity (if say, we won the lottery), we would hand in our resignations en masse! That is sad, because I think we are often underappreciated, feel insignificant in our community and corporation, and feel what we might be able to contribute is often never given a chance for full expression! Now, I'm talking about a group of women who are passionate, caring, very intelligent, educated and highly skilled. My respect for these women, my peers, is enormous. I know what they can do, what they have done in the past. My heart aches because what they could accomplish if given half a chance would blow the world we live in apart. Enormous blessings that will never see the light of day, suffering alleviated, knowledge and understanding expanded, humour, delight, music, light, food, creativity, spirituality, irreverence, love...

At the end of our evening of self-evaluation, the talk evolved into the comic reliving of momentous occasions at work. The stories, the words, the poetry, the comedic exuberance, the sharp insights,the human kindness, all left me breathless, laughing till it hurt and tears streamed down my face.

I sometimes wonder if these women ever know how really, really spectacular they are??

I see my friends and coworkers as these enormous talents, stuffed into itty-bitty roles defined and enforced on them by our workplace, and the way it sees itself as a "citizen" (I resent the way corporations have more rights in society than individuals) in this society. The ends are supposedly the larger good of the corporation, but I think it's a loss to us all.

I'm a big believer in small is beautiful. Great things have been accomplished by some people, but at what cost? Much harder, I believe, is to start with one's family, one's neighbours--who presumably know one's defecits as well as strengths, and are less willing to accept a prophet in one's own home. The 'great' people who conquer the world are often people who step on others on the way up, neglect their spouse and children, keep the larger goal uppermost, sacrificing the "smaller" things that should never be sacrificed on the way up to the top. My reverse focus would be on the "little" individual ...taking care of those who are within reach of my arms, sharing with the neighbor who has less than I do...never mind global markets!

In my experience of big organizations, the goal of the organization soon becomes to maintain itself, vs actually producing or doing anything real to benefit the world. The people in the organization often become expert at furthering their career and maintaining it, vs actually producing or doing anything real. The focus becomes inward and competitive/defensive vs the outside world, instead of product/service orientated in relation to the world in which the organization exists. This makes everyone in the organization smaller, and shrinks the corporation's perception of the world to numbers, statistics, consumer groups, budget deficits and profit margins, & other such dead concepts. Presumably, most business organizations come into existence to provide a product/service, but that quickly becomes lost as the interests of the organization shift to increasing profits, shrinking the bottom line, and defending itself from unhappy consumers, competitors, and 'conflicting interests" like: job markets, environmental concerns, the welfare of the whole society in which the organization moves. The shift should never occur, as far as I'm concerned, because it is too shortsighted to assume that the interests of the whole society, the individuals in it, and the health of the natural world around you, are not your own interests, whether you are an individual or a corporation.

The Gaia perspective, and any philosophy like it, that understands our human need to be reunited with an undifferentiated unitary consciousness, a "participation mystique" with nature, an identification with the anima mundi, of the soul of the world, of the community of all being, of the all-pervading, of mystery and ambiguity, of imagination, emotion, instinct, body, nature, woman...all this cannot be measured and appreciated by the "pure science" of paternalistic technocracies who are so easily subverted to specific political and economical agenda. While they consume huge resources and intelligence for purposes of social and ecoligical domination, they have long ago succumbed to the "thrall of man's own self-destructive irrationality," as Richard Tarnas describes in the Passion of the Western Mind. The disconnect leaves even individuals who run these corporations feeling shocked, alienated, and separated from "the ground of our being", physically, emotionally, philosophically, socially, and spiritually, not even mentioning the rest of us poor buggers who struggle with the decimation of the natural world, the erosion of our natural resources and the undermining of the values of our communities.

Realizing our interconnectedness to everything in the universe, from the tiniest microorganizm to the stars, in a mystical way, helps us to value the grief we feel, to understand our grief, and to cope with this grief, as we see the wholesale destruction and wounding of the world and us in it.

This is my desire, not Fame, in the usual sense. By allowing myself to be vulnerable and open to the energies and information that extend beyond the reach of conscious ego, I hope to belong to the human community, in a deepening recognition of partnership and pluralism; the reconnection of body and emotion, the unconscious, the imagination and intuition; the recognition of the immanent intelligence of nature. Any creative or intellectual breakthrough I hope to have, I wish it to come as a profound Illumination, as a Revelation of the divine creative principle itself, not as my own purposively rational effort; not my individual genius, rather the real inclusion of the phenomena of art, religion, and dream, resulting in a small sparkling cycle in the great interconnected spirals of life itself.

In that respect, I'm pretty sure, I could never be the CEO of a large multinational corporation. The individual customer, the individual employee and the individual neighbour of my corporation would always be more interesting and relevant to me, than say fluctuations of 1 or 2 % in my profit margin for the investors...

Thursday, December 09, 2004


The pictures above are of a simple snowman craft we made at my spinning group meeting yesterday, and some sheepskin fridge magnets made by Lynn, one of our group members!

Yesterday was a day of miracles. Despite getting up in pain again (lets skip that part) which made me very slow to get going, the day just got better and better.

First, I found my missing little black leather gloves. I have had these gloves for over ten years now and they are so comfortably formed to my hands, that losing them would be a real pang. Last week, I thought I had lost them at work. Actually, they were lost, because I searched everywhere. I turned out my Projects Bag several times, taking every single object out one by one, then putting them back in and the gloves were definitely not there! They don't fit in my purse and they were not in my coat pockets, nor were they in my car ( I checked, even though I had gone to work that day with my friend Lindsay). So. Yesterday morning, I opened my Projects Bag to pack for my spinning group meeting in Gamebridge, and the first thing I see is my gloves! Impossible, but true!

Then, at my spinning group meeting (really our Christmas get-together)we drew numbers for our little gift exchange, after eating a sumptuous potluck lunch. I managed, to my great surprise, to receive the gift that everyone wanted. Donna's incredibly inventive husband, Paul, had made a 'Mauridi', out of this and that. Let me tell you, it is a work of art. With a Mauridi, I will be able to do Kumihimo (Japanese braiding). I'm embarrassed to say, I have very little idea of what this entails, having only read a little about it in passing. As I learn more about it, and practice making some beautiful braided pieces, I hope to post pictures of my successes :). Those poor ladies at my spinning group! While they are expert in so many fibre arts, it seemed incredible that me, a humble beginner, should have lucked out and received what they all coveted. They did tease me a little!

I bought a phone to replace the old defunct kitchen phone. I've been missing messages because I used to rely on the old flashing light. Of course, being really, really cheap, I did not buy a new phone with flashing lights. So, I guess I'll have to learn new habits re checking for messages.

We are making plans to have Christmas at my oldest daughter's again this Christmas. I have been deputed to make my usual onion-cheddar quiche. We call it a more prosaic "onion-cheese pie" in our family.

I finished Granddaughter's multicoloured hat. I still have to knit the mitts. I had started on the mittens first. But when reading the pattern for the thumb gusset, I increased as told (I thought), trying to achieve a total of 40 stitches for the thumb gusset! A more experienced knitter at my paying job clarified my mistake. I had by this time, ripped out the mittens and started on the hat instead, because the mittens were getting so BIG, they would have been too big for an adult, never mind a 3 year old little girl. Funny how one can develop certain closed thinking that now matter how often one re-reads the pattern, that block keeps one from seeing correctly. Imagine!

I'm always fascinated by how the mind works--or doesn't, in this case!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

trying to get along

This morning, at about 8 - 10 a.m., there was a brief, but spectacular miracle out in the yard. The southeast side of every twig, evergreen needle, branch was frosted with candy. No Kidding! Like the sugar-crystal old-fashioned candy sticks one sometimes sees, the moisture in the air had frosted to the branches in tiny shards of white crystals. Unfortunately, there was not enough light to take a photo with my camera. As the morning wore on, it got milder, the frost turned first to freezing rain, then outright rain by the afternoon. The spectacle was so brief.

I am wondering if perhaps I should really cut out coffee altogether. I can't cut back, because after a while, I'll just be back to drinking way too much coffee the way I do now. The reason I'm thinking about this, is because I worry the coffee is contributing to the aches and pains. Knowing calcium is important for strong nerves, I'm wondering if the pain I feel in my muscles is related to the calcium depleting effects of the caffeine?? The pain is not in the joints, as I would have thought arthritis pain would be. Instead, I notice I hold a lot of tension in the muscles across my neck, shoulders, and upper arms. I also have pain in my buttocks and thighs at times. Yeah, yeah, it could also just be old age :)
So, enough of the organ recital.

My daughter told me she had an emotional breakdown when she re-read some parts of Christiane Northrup's book on women's health. She identified with some of the emotional wounds which then lead to some hurtful behaviors and ultimately some typical health problems. When she talked to me about it, I felt terrible. How could I help her? I wanted to help her. I am pretty sure I did not say or do the right things, but if she only knows how much I love her, maybe she'll understand that whatever nurturing she lacked from me as a child, I want to help her give herself now, when she can consciously decide to give herself what she needs. I know I can't parent the little girl she was any more, but I can be the parent she needs now as a beautiful young adult woman.

I've been going through a kind of strange thing here. At the risk of offending my landlords and their family, here's the thing. One retired family member comes regularly to check on the beef cattle they raise. She also comes to feed the barn cats. There are two-and-a-half to three dozen cats about the place.

A little while ago, she said she thought my dogs were killing cats in the barn. Now, I can't deny that the dogs love to chase cats, but usually, if the cats stand up to them or ignore them, it is suddenly too frightening or boring for the dogs to pursue the game. A couple of mornings in a row, the dogs found a dead kitten by the house--sad little bodies that were not there the night before, when I went out with the dogs so that they could do their business. The kittens were quite blue without any obvious marks on them--little wet bundles of misery. Knowing that kittens are fragile and many of the cats in the barn are ill with some sort of upper respiratory thing, I felt the kittens died of natural causes, rather than my dogs, but I could not say that for sure.

Anyhow, I figured, I'll keep the dogs on a leash from now on, and time would tell. The other day, the aforementioned lady taped a note to my front door, accusing my dogs of 'upsetting things in the barn' and killing another cat. The note was rather accusatory in tone re my supposed lapse in being responsible for my dogs. As I had suspected before, this time it was clear my dogs could not be responsible, as I had them out only on a leash consistently since the first complaint. She said the cat's throat had been cut...What a sad business.

Anyhow, as anyone who knows me will understand, this situation is very upsetting to me. It colours how I feel every day. My dogs are annoying and disgusting as only dogs can be sometimes, but then they are lovable and sweet as only dogs can be sometimes. I always try to be a responsible animal-owner, caring for them the best I can, and keeping them from disturbing neighbours too.

This reminds me of a story my friend Michelle told us a while ago. Her neighbours had a pet rabbit that they kept in a cage rather close to Michelle's backyard fence. Michelle's dog was very interested in that rabbit, and as luck would have it, one day, the dog proudly turned up with a very dead, muddy, dirty rabbit in its mouth. Michelle was horrified. How to tell the neighbours that her dog had killed their rabbit? They would be so upset, Michelle didn't know what to do.

Finally, she decided to wash and clean the rabbit carcass. She blow-dried it until it was positively the fluffiest rabbit ever. Then she gently laid the dead rabbit back in its cage in the hopes the neighbours would think the rabbit had died of natural causes--no trauma, no mess.

A little later, the neighbours had the opportunity to talk with Michelle, and they had the strangest story to tell. It appears their rabbit had died, so they buried it with all appropriate pomp, etc. Imagine their bewilderment when the rabbit reappeared in the cage...after the burial...
It turns out that Michelle's dog had merely exhumed an already dead rabbit and brought it home. It had not actually been the killer...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

scents and memories

I have set aside my knitting and beading for a few days and my conscience is bothering me. Sometimes when I don't get back to a project for a while, it gets harder and harder to pick it up again and finish it. But I've been preoccupied with worrying whether I can rearrange my obligations at my paying job etc in order to have the day free for my spinning group on Wednesday. Now that I have that taken care of, I think I'll be able to concentrate on getting more work done.

I did some research on the traditional Finnish Christmas celebrations. I was curious as to the extent that my parents maintained the traditions of the old country after they came to Canada. Some of the trappings, like the tree and lights were not quite the same, but the food my mom prepared certainly was. There was a mention of something called 'tiernapojat' that I had never heard of. When my mom phoned this weekend, I asked her about it. She said it was not a tradition in her part of Finland.

I was thinking about food and the powerful effect the senses of smell and taste have on the mind. The tiniest whiff of a certain scent can bring back memories so acute that the whole body is affected. It can be a little disorientating. I experienced that "whole body memory" when after many years, I again smelled Ethiopian food when I entered an Ethiopian restaurant in Washington, D.C..

Everybody has had that sensation, I'm sure. Some people today told me for them the smell of pine woods up north, the muskeg smell of certain areas of northern Ontario, and the smell of woodsmoke...remind them of their grandfather...My oldest daughter once told me the summertime smell of barbecues and cut grass, take her back to her childhood in the suburbs.

I wonder in what way I can give my granddaughter some Finnish Christmas memories?

Friday, December 03, 2004


Well, it seems balance is the key. Yesterday, I spent an enjoyable hour reading Rosemary Gladstar's book on herbal remedies for the family. I started to realize that all the awful symptoms that I had thought were a cold coming on, are probably related to being pre-menopausal. All right, all you squeamish men out there just skip today's post.

She has a chapter on men in her book, and the feeling I got after reading it is that to RG, men are a mystery. A lovely doc I work with said he thinks we must really be different species. We think we speak the same language etc. but it really ain't so, is it?

I felt much better about life after the calming writing of RG and actually got a little laundry done.

So in the evening, I made myself a pot of Changing Woman Tea from Sweet Dove Herbs, and read some more of RG. I have a little rose scented sugar that I made this summer, so I put a little teaspoon of that in my tea as well. Yummy!

Rose scented sugar is really, really easy to make. Just as your best scented old-fashioned roses open up, take the petals and layer them with sugar in a jar with a tightly fitting lid. The sugar takes up the aroma from the rose petals, and when the blossom is just opening up, is when the rose petals have the most scent. I've used rose petals from blossoms that were just about to shatter however, with decent results just the same. The sugar does tend to clump afterward because it absorbs some moisture from the rose petals, but that is a minor problem, because the sugar that results is so beautifully scented of roses. But never, never use roses that have been sprayed with pesticides. The sugar will absorb the pesticides and then you will ingest them when you use the sugar.

I have been horrified all over again by the callousness of the CEO's of big corporations like Union Carbide who might have initially reacted like human beings to the tragedy of Bhopal 20 years ago, but now have retreated behind lawyers, blaming the victims and protecting the interests of investors. I think companies like Union Carbide should be made to obey the same level of safety regulations that they have in the U.S. or better when they build plants in 3rd world countries. Presumably that would make investing in those plants much less attractive because the costs would probably go up. Big surprise.

There is apparently a documentary that has just come out about the Bhopal tragedy. But after 20 years, it is a given that we have learned nothing, at least nothing that will guarantee that something like this will never happen again. The only thing we have learned is that too many of these multinational corporations are willing to sacrifice thousands and thousands of lives, this generation and the next and the next, for the interests of the investors. They act like sociopaths without a conscience or empathy. I did expect some sympathy for at least the poor human beings they kill and maim, not really expecting them to care about the ugliness they build as they destroy the beauty of the natural world wherever those factories go up. But I did read somewhere that that is the true nature of evil: the absence of empathy.